Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #67 -- September 2005


1. Pat Robertson, Terrorist
2. DKT Sues For the Right to Do Good
3. Katrina: God's Wrath About Homophobia?
4. Affirming Gay Parents' Responsibilities
5. No Plan A for Plan B
6. New Article


1. Pat Robertson, Terrorist

You heard that Pat Robertson, spiritual leader of millions and political advisor to your government, recently called for the assassination of Venezuela's democratically-elected President (and, yes, pain in the realpolitik butt) Hugo Chavez. Robertson denied he said it, then said he was misunderstood, and finally apologized.

You may not know that in America, the law requires that "whoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished" (Title 18 of US Code Section 1116). In fact, it's even a crime to "knowingly and willingly threaten" to do so (Section 878). We've all seen videotape, then, of Robertson committing a crime. But we doubt that he "shall be punished," because…um, why?

More to the point, Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network should be investigated by the FCC. They used the federally licensed airwaves to illegally call for President Chavez's assassination. Last year CBS was fined a half-million dollars for airing a half-second view of Janet Jackson's nipple, and Fox stations were fined over a million bucks for showing strippers whose nipples were covered with whipped cream. That would make the appropriate fine for the CBN, which caused an international incident, about 42 trillion dollars. Otherwise, the government's message will be clear: a little titty (very little) is more dangerous than the threat of terrorist violence. And isn't that what we've been saying they've been saying all along?

Next month, we'll discuss how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is, in fact, diverting resources from the nation's war on terror to fight the government's war on porn, despite the FBI's resistance.

2. DKT Sues For the Right to Do Good

Last month, we reported (#66) on the Bush administration policy requiring groups working with AIDS or human trafficking to explicitly oppose prostitution before getting federal grants. Such a policy will, of course, make it harder to work with high-risk populations. We also reported that Brazil had turned down $40,000,000 in USAID funds rather than compromise its "scientific, ethical, and social commitments."

This month we're delighted to announce that the government is being sued over this policy. DKT International (of Washington, DC) filed the lawsuit against USAID for withholding an HIV prevention grant for Vietnam after DKT refused to sign the pledge. DKT, which last year sold almost 400 million discounted condoms to sex workers in 11 countries, has been running its program in Vietnam for 12 years.

DKT's lawsuit says that being required to endorse the Administration's political viewpoint on sex work violates its free speech rights. "The government cannot tell us what policies to have," DKT founder Philip Harvey said.

Phil Harvey has long been one of America's under-appreciated heroes, revolutionizing condom use throughout the developing world. His courageous eight-year legal battle with the government ended in a 1994 court order requiring a change in the way obscenity cases were prosecuted--a rare, precious victory in our current repressive environment. That gripping story was told in Harvey's 2001 book, The Government vs. Erotica, which was reviewed in issue #18.

3. Katrina: God's Wrath About Homophobia?

Amidst the roar of flood waters, the whirring of helicopters, and the groaning of starving people, there's another sound that's hard to ignore--the chorus of religious groups telling us that God is pissed off.

If you believe in God, you know that she/he/it is a wrathful God, delivering brutal punishment when offended. God is typically perceived as particularly offended when people attempt to make sense out of incomprehensible tragedy.

Predictably, hate-filled preachers have crawled out of the devastation to announce that sex in general and gays in particular pushed God to ravage the Gulf area. Michael Marcavage of the group Repent America says that God destroyed New Orleans because of Southern Decadence, the gay festival scheduled for the Labor Day weekend: "We must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long."

Reverend Fred Phelps (who built a hate monument to Matthew Sheppard) proclaimed "Thank God for Katrina. New Orleans, symbol of America, seen for what it is: a putrid, toxic, stinking cesspool of fag fecal matter."

If there is a God, and if God destroys when angry, we should look a little deeper for possible sources of that anger. For example, the dozens of gambling casinos littering the Mississippi and other rivers nearby. Every single weekend, churches charter buses carrying people with open wallets eager to get something for nothing. That's a lot of greed.

Maybe God is angry that Louisiana had the lowest Congressional voter turnout in the nation in 2004. Barely one in four eligible Louisianans voted for someone to represent them in the U.S. House. That's a lot of indifference.

Maybe God is angry that these voters did turn out to overwhelmingly approve a state constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage by a margin of 80 percent. That's a lot of hate.

Maybe God is angry that Mississippi passed a law last year virtually banning second-trimester abortions. Mississippi's abortion laws are already among the most restrictive in the country. That's a lot of theft of others' rights.

Maybe God is angry that in Alabama it's legal to buy a gun but illegal to buy a vibrator. That's a lot of self-righteousness.

Maybe God is testing the Christian values of this highly religious Gulf area. Have their pieties about the traditional family, traditional marriage, and the sins of contraception kept them from looting, raping, and trampling each other? Did the rich help the poor, or abandon them?

It's easy to be civilized when you have what you need. If religion can't keep you civilized when you don't have what you need, it's worthless.

4. Affirming Gay Parents' Responsibilities

The California Supreme Court has ruled that parents have responsibilities to their children after the couple's relationship ends--even if the parents happen to be gay.

The three cases involved a request for child support, the establishment of parental rights, and the question of which parents should be on a child's birth certificate. The court considered whether former members of same-gender couples could be required to assume parental obligations, and which of their parental rights they retain.

This decision is terrific for gays who want the same simple rights as non-gays, and for people who want to end America's apartheid policies of second-class citizenship for gays. From a strategic point of view, however, we should be underlining the "responsibilities" part of the Court's decision more than the "rights" part. We need to talk up the law requiring good citizenship from gays and same-sex couples--to undermine the (admittedly dumb) idea that gays are looking for some kind of carefree ride through civic life, exploiting the system as perpetual adolescents. Like all parents, let gays and same-sex couples proudly and eagerly volunteer for responsibility, not just rights--or as some people call rights when others want them, "privileges."

Of course, the court rulings troubled groups defending what they call traditional values. "You've essentially begun to undermine and unravel the family," said Mathew Staver of the law firm Liberty Counsel. This neatly exposes the bankruptcy of the "traditional values" position: when gay adults offer to nurture children, to maintain the two-parent commitment the Right is always idealizing, the offer is rejected, willfully misunderstood. In truth, the Right is far less concerned about the welfare of children than they are in their ideological fantasy of what "society" needs. If it takes a village to raise a child, they'd rather burn down the village if it doesn't look "right."

5. No Plan A for Plan B

Last week, FDA commissioner Lester Crawford announced that he would indefinitely postpone a ruling on Plan B, the morning-after pill made by Barr Laboratories. He explained that while the science supported over-the-counter access for women 17 and older, the agency had not figured out how to provide that access without younger teenagers getting the pills.

Saying the science supports the public's access is Crawford's one truth. The FDA's own advisory panels unanimously said Plan B was safe, voting 23 to 4 almost two years ago to sell it over-the-counter. The American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine and others mainstream medical organizations say that Plan B is safe.

But Crawford lied during his Senate confirmation hearing as FDA head earlier this year. Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray wanted his commitment to promptly issue a decision--any decision--on Plan B in order to allow his confirmation. His response back in March? "I can't say for sure," he testified, "but I don't think it's going to be a long delay." On July 15, the FDA agreed to issue a decision by September 1. On August 29, Crawford's response was pure Bush-speak: "this postponement is a decision." Reproductive rights groups and Senator Clinton herself are furious at this betrayal.

Despite the agency's repeated denials, it's old news that the continuing delays over Plan B are politically motivated (issues #23, 52). During Crawford's confirmation hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch himself called it "not a pharmaceutical issue as much as it's a social issue."

The director of the FDA's office of women's health resigned yesterday to protest the agency's decision to further delay its approval. "This shouldn't be about abortion politics," Assistant Commissioner Dr. Susan Wood said. She could no longer continue "when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled." She said the agency was unlikely to make a decision on the Plan B application "in the foreseeable future."

Commissioner Crawford has decided that the law now requires "an open process to solicit public comment." And then what? Exactly who is qualified to make a "public comment?" And if, say, 30 million people are against non-prescription access to the drug and 500,000 are for access, then what? After years of delay, how much more "public comment" does the FDA need?

Senator Clinton says Washington is becoming "an evidence-free zone." In the face of intelligent design, abstinence-only sex ed, a ban on stem-cell research, and a denial that global warming exists, shall science have any role in American public policy?

This controversy isn't even about the morality of abortion per se, but rather about the pragmatics of contraception. The more people control their own contraception, the more they control the consequences of sex, and therefore their own sexual decision-making. For years, the Religious Right has been saying they're scared of this. Like other federal agencies, the FDA is enshrining the Right's fear as public policy.

The age issue, of course, is bogus. Stores manage to sell alcohol to adults and withhold it from minors, so we know pharmacies could do the same with Plan B. Besides, there's no data to suggest that girls under 17 can't tolerate the medication. And instructions for taking the two pills (yes, that's all) are simple enough for a 12-year-old to follow. Should they be allowed to? We think if you're old enough to become pregnant you're old enough to decide to not become pregnant.

Since the FDA has requested "public comments," here's your chance to be a good citizen. Call Commissioner Crawford and tell him to make Plan B available over-the-counter for all women--the way dozens of other countries do, including Canada (issue #63). You can leave him a message at 301/827-2410 during business hours.

6. New Article

I'm happy to announce the 20th original article on my website. I wrote it in response to the May 19 Congressional "hearings" on the alleged effects of pornography--hearings that were eerily similar to, and exactly as fair as, the "trials" held in the courtrooms of Stalin, Pol Pot, and the Taliban.

Entitled "People who feel victimized by porn: Let's give them sympathy, not a Congressional hearing," you can read it at It's good preparation for "Victims of pornography month" (October), which you'll be reading about here. As always, your comments are welcome.

You may quote anything herein, with the following attribution:
"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. ("